If you had to name the secret behind a successful startup, would you say it’s having a killer idea or a good founding team? Of course, there are so many other things to consider, such as timing, money, marketing, and so on. Yet, when it comes to the very first steps of starting your business, you not only need an original idea, but also the right people undertaking the founding team roles.
You might think that hiring qualified people will help you with that problem. However, one of the reasons why a startup fails is not due to a lack of a qualified team, but because the team can not work together. You should aim for hiring good team players with excellent qualifications. In that way, not only you will work with people who are good at their jobs, but also who can create a nice working atmosphere. Your team will have a huge influence on how successful your startup can get.
The Essential Teammates Your Startup Needs
Your founding team needs to have three essential roles: the Visionary, the Hustler, and the Hacker. At first, it might be only you undertaking these roles. Over time, there will probably be a need for more people to take on different founding team roles. Don’t forget, that not every start-up is built on the same structure, but certain roles need to be taken on.
A good founding team should consist of people who share the values, culture, and mission of your startup. The more people you have in your team, the more likely it is to have misalignments. Gathering the wrong people around might lead your startup to sink in time. Finding the right people is a crucial decision for the future of your business at a very early step.
You may want to hire your friend because you know them well. You may know an acquaintance who happens to have a good resume and excellent management skills. Before you reach out to your phone to call them, you need to get to know these roles and how they function. Laying a solid foundation for your team from the very beginning is the best way to get into business and grow.
There is a reason why this role is called the “Visionary”. Most of the time, the Visionary role is the CEO of the startup. They are the ones behind any significant decisions about the future of the company. Their job is to see the bigger picture, make strategic short-term and long-term plans, and lead the passion of the team. They might be taking on every important role in your start-up due to a lack of money to hire specialists and consultants at the early stages of the business.
The Visionary constantly looks for new partnerships and opportunities to market the product of the company. They should have faith in the company even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This position requires excellent problem-solving and crisis management skills to be able to take an action in such situations.
You can consider the “Hustler” as the “salesperson” of the team. They are good at pitching. Their role is to make deals and manage customers’ and partners’ accounts. Whereas the Visionary makes the plans and sets the stage for business opportunities, the Hustler makes the plan function and closes business deals.
Since they are more engaged in the marketing and advertising side of the business, it is ideal to find someone with a background in marketing, business development, technology, or finance. However, you should not only consider how they look on paper or what their title is but instead focus more on their attitude. The Hustler needs to be communicative, ready to jump into the business with the right strategy and attitude, and convincing.
If you are already The Hustler of your team or you are interested more in the marketing side of the business, read our article about building a strong pitch deck.
Without the product, there is no business. They are the embracer of the product of your startup. It is their job to breathe and live for the product. They determine the technical direction of the business and focus on developing it. This position is in charge of convincing the buyers that it is valuable and worth investing in it.
In the first stages of your startup, the Hacker makes sure that there is a need for your product in the market. Their job is to work on product development and decide on the marketing objectives and strategies. They know their target and the needs and expectation of your customers. The Hacker also know the costs of your product, and they decide on the pricing.
Other Founding Team Roles
It is not always necessary to hire so many people, especially at the very first stages of your business. Ideally, there will be people who can take more than one role in your team. Your goal should be to have a functioning team that covers the needs of your business, which is not too little or too many in number according to the size of your company.
As your company grows, however, there are other roles your team might adopt:
- The Magician: They establish the marketing plans and make your brand stand out. Their job is to make your startup and product more desirable for investors and customers.
- The Designer: This role works on the creative side of your business. They design the website and/or the app space, and work on branding your business.
- The Enabler: This position handles the operational issues to deal with the legal process, and keeps the company running forward and operating.
What Makes a Good Founding Team?
- Trust & Respect: A good founding team should work in harmony. There will be different ideas and room for novelty. One key to success is to respect each other. If you don’t work well with people you can count on nor get along with, your startup will sink alongside your team.
- Diversity: You need people who can think outside the box. If you surround yourselves with people who are just like you, your start-up or product won’t be prospective. You need variety, different experiences, and input.
- Communication: Everyone knows communication is the key. It is the secret behind a good atmosphere in the office. You should hear each other out, and talk about what you have on your mind regarding your business. Not every idea will be taken into action or be liked. However, you will never know without communicating with your team members properly.
Don’t forget, that your founding team will represent your company and the investors will base their opinions about your business according to how convincing and successful they are as a team. Make sure that your team is good at understanding and listening to each other as well as they are qualified and ready to rock your business.
Who Gets To Be The Boss?
At first, one person may take on more than another in the company, whether it is relevant to their skills or not. It is important to gather around with your team and discuss who should take on which founding team roles. This helps you share the workload and efficiently run your young startup. When discussing with your team, it’s important to ask:
- What are my best skills?
- How can I benefit our company the most?
- How is my experience relevant to the roles in our company?
- Will I be able to take any of these responsibilities alone, or need to hire someone?
Once you all answer the questions, you should be able to tell which role suits you the best. Of course, there will be overlaps, and it will always be hard to decide who gets to be the boss, and who gets to take on another significant role in your startup. You need to remind yourselves that it is not a competition among team members, but a competition with other startups. Take on the role that you are good at.
Some roles might already appear organically and some need to be assigned within your team. What you all should keep in your mind is to be open-minded and consider what is best for the future of your start-up and the development of your product.
Last Minute Tips Before You Go
There will always be more to consider since the needs of each startup will differ from each other. Gathering a good team with the right skills and interests should be your focus. Even if it is the early stages of your business, keep our tips in mind. At first, you may lack the network or the finances you need. Yet, you should aim for laying a solid foundation from the very first beginning.
- Hiring someone you know best (i.e. friends, family, etc.) may not always be smart. Having so much trust in someone may lead to wrong decisions.
- Hiring someone you don’t know but with excellent skills may also go wrong. Hire the people you need and the people you can work with in harmony. If you hire someone with a good background but hard to get along with, it may turn out to be a bad decision in the long run.
- Trying to take on every single role alone might be more challenging than you think. You can’t and don’t have to have each of the skills that your startup needs. Taking all the responsibility alone may cause burnout or a lack of perspective.
- Having many people taking on so many founding team roles may cause more misalignments and loss of money.
In short, a good founding team is key to the success of your business. If your team cannot work in harmony, they won’t be able to bring your product and business success. How your founding team represents your company will affect your investors’ opinions about your business. Gather people around who embrace the values, mission, and culture of your product and business.